Spotlight & Excerpt: The Safe Game, by Wes Verde

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Welcome to the book tour for The Safe Game by Wes Verde. Read on for more details!

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The Safe Game
by Wes Verde
Publication Date: July 22nd, 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Crime Thriller

New Jersey, 1928.

The Cons – Roy, Urbane, and Victoria – made a living by separating fools from their money and rarely stayed in one place for too long. Keeping food in their bellies and a roof over their heads often meant hopping from one game to the next, barely staying ahead of the law or poverty and sometimes both.

That was until the day Roy – the Idea Man – thought he found a big score; one that would put the Cons on Easy Street. No more scraping by. No more hungry nights in the cold or picking pockets in desperation. Maybe even enough to get them out of this life for good. But things were never that simple.

When a tragic death brings the law snooping around, the Cons find themselves running afoul of cops, gangsters, and other powerful people – ones with secrets.

The Cons have gotten out of scrapes before, but their luck may soon run out and this particular game may end in luxury, a jail cell, or an early grave.

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Excerpt

Today she was on fire. Heads started to bob and the group pressed closer, trying to get a better look at the device.

With her work done, Victoria fell quiet. The excitement of the crowd was properly kindled now. A contended grin curled up her full lips. To Urbane’s surprise, her sharp eyes suddenly found his. At first, he thought it might be a fluke. Or perhaps his supposedly concealed location had been somehow compromised. Before he could stress himself over the matter, she winked. Then, all other thoughts fled. Just as his face started to heat up, she returned her attention to Roy. It was his turn to bring it home.

“Now, I’ve been given strict instructions by Treasury Department officials to accept no less than two thousand dollars for this device,” he intoned formally.

This was met with groans of disapproval and one or two boos and justifiably so; one could buy a small house for that amount of money. It was a far higher bid than in previous towns.

Feigning surprise, the Idea Man continued. “You understand, surely, that such a sum would be recovered in a matter of weeks if the prescribed regiment is followed?”

Urbane wondered if that was right. Knowing the scam – game – he had not previously given much thought to its premise. Having lost sight of Victoria for the moment, he quickly did the math in his head and came up with about fifty days. This was with the assumption that the machine was operated every five hours… and that it was not a scam.

As one who dealt in numbers and concrete reality, this world of deception was foreign to him. How people could believe such an outlandish proposition boggled his mind. A naturally curious sort, Urb simply could not fathom the lack of such in others.

Outside, Roy let the groans begin to subside before he extended the olive branch.

“Hang on, now. Hang on. Well… it will mean some hard questions from my superiors. Maybe even some shady bookkeeping on my part. But if that is asking too much, perhaps a discount might be considered. Just for the hard working folks of Lawrence, mind you.” In a quieter voice, he added, “But I must implore you to please keep this just between us. I could go as low as twelve hundred dollars.”

Again, boos. Though, fewer than before. In the end, Roy was obliged to drop the bid twice more before a collection hat started passing around. Urb shook his head, astonished. Roy and Victoria could steer a crowd the same way he could tickle a lock or build a mechanism. For the price of a decent used car, these people had accepted this deal that should have been too good to be true – of course it was. The crowd soon divided into two factions, apparently debating how the forthcoming riches would be allocated.

One man emerged as the representative of the group, holding the collection hat. Urbane’s eyes went wide. It was more cash and coin than they had made in the past three towns put together. If properly budgeted, it could well be enough to carry them into summer. The crowd shifted and he caught sight of Victoria again. She had also glimpsed the considerable sum. Like Urb, she bit her lower lip in anticipation. Seeing the curve of her face and the swell of her hips, he nearly forgot about their windfall and most everything else for that matter.

And he was not the only one to take notice. Would-be suitors were not an uncommon issue. As a professional hazard, Victoria tended to attract male attention like iron filings to a lodestone and today was no exception.

It was a young fella. The excessively confident ones often were and Urbane frowned as this one fixed Madame Charmer in his sights. She inspired many emotions: infatuation, longing, lust. Urb was a thinking man, but after six months of living and working in close proximity, even he could not fully resist her allure. Watching others make the attempt for her affection, even knowing they were doomed to fail was not good for his heart.

Though entirely capable of rebuffing such attempts, it seemed Vic had not yet detected her latest admirer. As the young man drew closer, Urb realized too late that something was off. This fellow had none of the telltale signs of one about to ask for a date.

At the same time, another speaker fired a bombshell question directly at Roy.

“How is this not counterfeiting?”

Available on Amazon


About the Author

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Wes is an engineer by trade, a busybody by habit, and a lifelong Jersey boy.

Writing has been a hobby in one form or another since 2006 when he started drawing 3-panel comics. When he is not putting words down, he is picking them up; the “to-read” pile only seems to grow larger.

A fan of nature, he spends as much time outside as possible.

Wes Verde


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Spotlight & Excerpt: Autumn of the Grimoire + Giveaway

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We are celebrating the official release of the highly anticipated novel by J.L. Vampa, Autumn of the Grimoire and we’re thrilled to be part of the launch! Read on for more details and a chance to win a fantastic giveaway!

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Autumn of the Grimoire
(Sisters Solstice Series #1)
by J.L. Vampa
Expected Publication Date: September 22, 2022
Genre: Gothic Fantasy/ Dark Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Phantom House Press

Some witches cast spells. Others slay kings.

A mysterious Grimoire. A marriage full of dark secrets. A History sculpted by a quartet of ancient Sister witches.

For three hundred years, Sister Autumn has incited wars, burnt villages, killed kings, and released plagues at the bidding of the Grimoire. Meanwhile, her Sister Winter, Sister Spring, and Sister Summer have brought forth only peace.

When an Order from the Grimoire sends Agatha to the Kingdom of Merveille, she already anticipates the worst. Unless she wants to face the wrath of the Goddess, Agatha must keep her head down and do as she’s commanded.

But when the Grimoire Orders her to marry a pompous prince and play the role of a peasant “accepted” by vicious aristocrats, she finds herself at the center of a war between the classes and an age-old prophecy.

Within the court, many players harbor dark secrets—including her new husband. With her newfound influence, Agatha joins forces with the city’s Blacklisted in order to blur the lines between the common man and the elite, unravel the mysteries in her marriage, and decide once and for all if she will defy the Grimoire and face the brutal consequences.

As secrets unfold, will Agatha continue to slay on behalf of the Grimoire, or forge an uncharted History with her unlikely allies?

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Teaser

The gargantuan doors closed with an ominous clank and Prince Thackery stalked toward her, stopping only a stride away. “How dare you stand there and deign to say nothing?” he ground out.

Her nerves bent a knee to her fury at his unexpected outburst. Agatha let a spiteful smile adorn her lips. “And what would you have me do, then? Throw myself at your feet and argue that I am worthy to be your bride?” Surprise flashed across the prince’s face at her gall, but he swiftly shoved it away. She swung an arm out wide. “Or would you have me faint upon the chaise because of my utter fortune to be your betrothed?” She took a step closer to him. “Because I will do neither of those things.”

His lip curled. “A bit bold for a peasant, aren’t we?” Agatha cursed her cheeks for heating. Perhaps she was a fool not to play the part of a meek little mouse, but she couldn’t stop the storm of rage bubbling up inside of her. “I do not wish to marry you any more than you wish to marry me.” A muscle in the prince’s jaw flexed. “Then help me fight this madness! Deny the proposal that has been asked without my will.” Agatha snickered. “And risk the loss of my head at the hands of our darling Crown?” She crossed her arms at her chest, matching the prince’s stance. “I think not.”

©JL VAMPA

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About the Author

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J.L. Vampa’s four-book New Adult Fantasy series, SISTERS SOLSTICE, will begin on September 22, 2022. Jane Lenore (J.L.) Vampa is a published author of Dark Fantasy and Victorian Gothic fiction. J.L. also owns a macabre-style bookish shop, Wicked Whimsy Boutique. She lives in Texas with her musician husband and their two littles who are just as peculiar as they are.

JL Vampa |  Instagram | Twitter | Wicked Whimsy Boutique


Giveaway:

Visit @sadiesspotlight for a chance to win a physical copy of the book and a $25 Wicked Whimsy Boutique gift card!


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Spotlight & Excerpt: The Prism Effect, by J. Wint

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To celebrate the release of the second instalment in The Skylight Series by author J. Wint, we’re going back to where the adventure began with The Prism Effect! Read on for more details!

The Prism Effect MIDJOURNEY EBOOK

The Prism Affect
(The Skylight Series #1)
by J. Wint
Publication Date: September 2021
Genre: YA Fantasy/ Sci-Fi

LIFE has never been easy for young Jet Stroud.

He is affected by a rare condition known as ephebus mortem, also called the youthful death, and legend says it will kill him before his twenty-fourth birthday. To make matters worse, the legend also claims that its victims become delusional as they grow older.

However, things take a turn for the better when he is unexpectedly accepted into the renowned Skylight University–an orbiting system in the Earth’s atmosphere. At first, he doubts the legend and begins the semester hoping to learn more about his strange disease. As the school year unfolds, he meets a group of students like him and they band together. Soon, strange things start to happen–mysterious shadows follow them, bizarre holographic prophecies appear that only they can see, and haunting voices cloud Jet’s thoughts. He begins to struggle on the blaze pitch and with his studies. The small group of students threaten to splinter apart as the semester races to a close and Jet wonders if he will survive. In the end, he uncovers something about himself so profound that it will change his life forever.


Excerpt

“Jet?” she asked. “Everything okay?”

He didn’t respond, still gazing in the direction of the fountain. She snapped her fingers in front of his face to gain his attention.

He blinked and looked at her. “Sylvant, over there next to the fountain… do you see it?”

It was the heat mirage again. It shifted around the base of the fountain, blurry and transparent. But it was too cool for a heat mirage, though it looked exactly like the ones he’d seen on hot and humid days.

She glanced in the fountain’s direction while pulling him out of the street. She shook her head. “No, I don’t see anything. Are you sure you’re okay?”

Jet looked at her defensively. “I’m fine, thanks.” He walked towards the fountain with the mirage in his sight. Sylvant followed, the heels of her shoes clicking across the vacant intersection. Jet stepped up to the fountain’s basin for a look around, but the mirage was gone.

“I swear… it was here,” he said.

“What was here? What are you talking about?” she asked.

“There was a… a shape, or something like a mirage here, just now.”

Sylvant cleared her throat. “Why don’t we go inside. We need to talk about this.” She flashed her sister’s journal in front of his face.

Jet hesitated. He wanted to understand what he’d just seen as much as he wanted to hear about the journal.

The shape suddenly reemerged near one of the alleyways, steam momentarily cloaking it. Then, the sunlight dimmed and turned everything a shade of rust.

“There. It’s there!” he hissed at her. “You can’t see that?”

She peered toward the alleyway. “Jet. You’re starting to worry me.”

“You don’t believe me, do you?”

“Jet, I’m trying to understand, but I don’t know what to say.”

“I’m going after it,” Jet said. “I want to prove to you—”

“Whatever it is, let it go!” Sylvant looked down the dark alley and back at him. “We can talk about it inside the café, alright? My first concern is your safety.”

Jet could see the uneasiness in her expression. “Sylvant, I’m asking for your help, not your protection.”

It was growing darker, and an unsettling stillness seemed to descend around them. Sylvant recovered her composure. “As a professor to a student, it’s my responsibility to look after you. You need to come with me.”

Jet watched the mirage move down the alleyway and vanish into the steam. “I can take care of myself. I’ll call you later, Sylvant. I promise.” He sprinted down the alleyway, leaving her behind.

Plumes of steam gushed from the buildings lining the alley and hid the fleeing mirage. The sunlight was nearly gone, making it difficult to see. Jet had to stop a few times to see where he was.

The chase came to an abrupt halt when the alley ended at a brick wall. The mirage was gone. Jet backtracked, looking for signs of it. He noticed a ladder on one building and climbed up three stories and onto the rooftop. He skirted the parapet and stopped to regain his bearings.

The sunlight flickered and dimmed, like someone sliding a gossamer drape in front of it. Jet looked at his watch, surprised to see there should still be half an hour of daylight left. What happened next made the hair on his arms stand up. One of the system’s outer belts crossed slowly in front of the sun, casting a long shadow over the cityscape beyond. The eclipse’s shadow inched eerily across each building, engulfing the city in darkness. Jet had read an article about the event, something called a skylight eclipse.

His skin grew cold as the eclipse overtook him. From the rooftop, he watched the leading edge of it creep doggedly across the pitted field and towards the dimly lit factory in the distance. Fleeing just ahead of the eclipse was the shimmering mirage.

Jet leapt over the building’s parapet and onto an adjacent rooftop. He scrambled across a metal bridge spanning the alleyway and sprinted across the field.

He entered the abandoned factory minutes later and slowed to a halt, kneeling against a storage tank to catch his breath. He could hear equipment running in the distance, which seemed odd since the factory appeared to be vacant. A rust-colored smog from old chemicals still lingered in the air. Rogue weeds grew up through cracked concrete, and above him, a maze of catwalks and pipes cast a kaleidoscope of patterns onto the pavement.

He crept further into the factory, searching for the mirage. The ground below his feet quivered, and the sound of equipment grew louder. Tremors accompanied a dull scraping noise that sounded like metal grinding on metal. Something big moved below the surface. He placed his hand on a storage tank and felt it vibrating rapidly.

Jet followed the thrumming for several minutes before stumbling upon a vast clearing. Rusted sheet metal walls rose up to create a circular pit. Sand and dirt covered the ground, and tumbleweeds piled along one end like skeletal remains. In the center stood an oddly shaped contraption that resembled the smokestack of a ship. Its bow pointed skyward like a steel chimney with steam spewing from it.

An uneasy feeling settled over him as he hid in the shadows. He was in the middle of nowhere and chasing a mirage. It was getting late, and the eclipse had him on edge.

Available on Amazon


About the Author

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Wint graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. He is a licensed architect and LEED accredited professional who believes in a strong, sustainable community. As a student of architecture, he developed a love for design and continues to push for creative solutions.

As a child of the 70’s, he developed a love for cheesy science fiction movies, and later became an avid fantasy reader. His youthful influences—combined with his college experiences and background as an architect—have propelled his work as a writer to create the Skylight Series.

J Wint | Twitter | Facebook


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 September 20th

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September 21st

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September 22nd

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September 23rd

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